Area Description: The photo sphere is placed right smack in the middle of a prairie dog town. Anyone standing in this spot is sure to send the prairie dogs into a frenzy of barking. Recent research has discovered that different predators illicit different barks.
Visible Vegetation: Fringed Sagewort, Horehound, Cudweed, Ragweed
Possible Animal Habitat:
Mammals: Bison, Prairie Dogs, Black-footed Ferrets, Elk, Badger, Skunk, Raccoon, Long-tailed Weasel, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Red Fox
Birds: Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Western Wood-peewee, Plumbeous Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer’s Blackbird
Geology: There are not too many rocks show but the few outcroppings on the hillside to the north are Paha Sapa Limestone.
Thematic Information: Prairie dogs are what are referred to as a keystone species. This means many other animals depend on prairie dogs for survival or thrive. This can be through food (be it the surrounding vegetation or the prairie dogs themselves) or shelter (through abandoned or captured prairie dogs holes). Bison and pronghorn like to graze on prairie dog towns. Animals as diverse as badgers, spiders, burrowing owls, black-footed ferrets, rodents, tiger salamanders, and rattlesnakes like to live in prairie dog holes. And they are prey for a wide variety of predators. One being the black-footed ferret (over 90% of their diet) which is the rarest land mammal in North America.
Recommended Student Activity:
List in what ways prairie dogs are important to other animals.
To the northwest is a newly dug prairie dog hole. Why would a prairie dog move locations?
Predator moved into his hole. Lack of vegetation near old hole. Old hole became waterlogged.